Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2014 Vol. 61 No. 12

Regional Disaster Finance Coordination Program

As emergency managers in the state of Texas, we tend to concentrate on mitigating, preparing and responding to emergencies from an operational perspective. Seldom do we do the same for the fiscal side of emergency management, with areas such as recovery often being an afterthought. With today’s economy, fiscal responsibility needs to be considered at the beginning of the emergency, not at the end.  Finance is part of all four areas of emergency management (mitigation, planning, response and recovery) and we should be concerned with much more than just how to respond to an emergency.

PURPOSE: On May 7, 2014, the Office of the Governor authorized a grant to help implement the Regional Disaster Finance Coordination Program.  The Regional Disaster Finance Coordination Program is a new, innovative, proactive pilot program designed to give local jurisdictions the financial tools needed to help recover from a disaster before a disaster occurs, as well as facilitate collaboration and communication between disaster responders and financial managers prior to an emergency occurring.  Embedded within the Field Response Section, this program is overseen by a state coordinator and will employ eight finance coordinators stationed throughout the state:

  • One each for DPS Regions 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6
  • Two for DPS Region 2
  • One at headquarters to assist with state agencies

FOCUS: Program efforts will focus on accounting practices of individual finance departments, cataloguing current budget capabilities and ensuring compliance with federal rules to improve financial standard operating procedures and systems used during a disaster. 

This focus is aligned with interim changes for the 83rd Legislature for the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety and the Committee on County Affairs to assess and improve the level of preparedness and to coordinate with local emergency response to ensure economic stability.

NEXT STEPS: Over the next 12 months, the finance coordinators will conduct courses, workshops and meetings with executive staff and finance personnel throughout all 254 counties in Texas to promote financial responsibility and equip the jurisdictions with the tools necessary to track, calculate and justify the costs of an emergency. 

Regional Disaster Finance Coordinator Contacts

State Coordinator
Shari Ramirez-MacKay
Address: 1033 La Posada Dr., Suite 250, Austin TX 78752
Office: (512) 424-2434
Cell: (512) 777-9454
Personal Cell:
Email: Shari.Ramirez-MacKay@dps.texas.gov

Region 1
Craig Brein
Address: 350 West Interstate 30, Garland, TX  75043
Office: (214) 861-2274
Cell:   (512) 954-0747
Personal Cell: (214) 499-6323
Email: Craig.Brein@dps.texas.gov

Region 2 East
Michael Widtfeldt
Address: 12230 West Road, Houston, TX 77065
Office:  (281) 517-1486
Cell: (512) 221-3551
Personal Cell: (512) 905-8468
Email: Michael.Widtfeldt@dps.texas.gov

Region 2 West
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Region 3
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Region 4
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Region 5
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Region 6
Natasha Watts
Address: 1033 La Posada Dr., Suite 250, Austin TX 78752
Office: (512) 424-2446
BB: (512) 239-8371
Personal Cell: (512) 581-8358
Email: Natasha.Watts@dps.texas.gov


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